The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg

The End of Growth – A Talk

I’ve just watched this brilliant good talk by Richard Heinberg about the limits to economic growth.

He argues that the trio of rising oil prices, the global debt crisis and climate change means we’re right at the end of the growth age.  He sees it as inevitable that our economy will change drastically over the next couple of decades. He doesn’t paint a steady state future as an ideal political choice like I often do – he says we’ll pretty much be forced into it. Well, he doesn’t use the term steady state actually, because that’s more specific. A steady state economy isn’t just non-growing, it’s also characterized by a high level of equality and a focus on human well being. He’s just saying our economy will become non-growing. It could very easily be a hard time for everyone, especially the poor. So it’s even more important that the other features of a steady state economy – equality and well being – are adhered to and acknowledged. For years, economic growth has been the answer to global and national poverty, and the obscene wealth of billionaire tycoons has been justified by the famous trickle down effect. If Heinberg is correct and we’re nearing the end of growth, then we need a new solution to poverty and social ills. If the cake’s not getting bigger, then for everyone to have a decent slice it has to be shared. In a post-growth world, more equality and shared wealth is the only way to solve poverty.

A small distinction:
‘Post-growth’ means any system or situation that comes after the age of economic growth, but does not refer to a recession which is just a short-term failure of a growth economy. Post-growth is a very broad term.
‘Steady state’ is more specific term referring to a so-far hypothetical post-growth economy that stays at a steady optimum size and for which the overarching goal is ‘sustainable and equitable human well being’ rather than ‘growth’.  See for more details.

Anyway, here’s the talk. It’s an hour long but it’s really worth your time. Heinberg logically smashes assumptions and raises critical questions that are incredibly important for everyone to consider.

He also has a book on this subject, which I really want to read!

The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg

The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg

4 thoughts on “The End of Growth – A Talk

  1. Tegan, it just so happened that I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get myself moving, so with a pot of tea I decided to watch the video. Very informative. I am a huge fan of Richard Heinberg and as it happens I recently picked up his book, End of Growth. Haven’t started it yet, but after watching the video am having a hard time not picking it up in place of the book I’m currently reading.

    Heinberg makes some real interesting arguments that I wish more of our governments would listen to. On the subject of happiness after basic needs are met I agree very much with him. Unfortunately, for most people they are going to have a very hard time adjusting to a simpler lifestyle, no one likes to have something forced on them and when it is, they fight it tooth and nail. While I see things getting worse before they get better, I wish the problems would come to the surface sooner rather than later so we can all start to create that new world in my lifetime.

    1. Excellent, I thought it was great too! He really does raise some issues that I hadn’t thought of before.
      I totally agree, we’re most likely in for a bumpy ride. But – like doing a monster pile of washing up – it’s one of those things that’ll just get worse the longer it’s left. It’s time to wake up and deal with the broken system we’ve been messing around with.

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